Was it a two-game stretch of good pitching smothering a hot lineup?Or the beginning of another team-wide Yankees hitting slump?Having won five straight entering Saturday’s game against Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander, the Yankees’ bats were in the best groove of the season. The fastball has life and the slider was good,’’ Carlos Beltran said of Fulmer, who provided six shutout innings in a 4-1 Tigers victory before an Old-Timers’ Day crowd of 47,474 at Yankee Stadium.
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He got me chasing a couple of times.’’ After scoring 33 runs in the five wins (four against the Angels, one versus the Tigers) and punishing pitchers who are barely borderline big league hurlers, the Yankees touched home plate once Saturday and once Sunday.
The lack of hitting, especially in the clutch Sunday when the Yankees were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base, wasted a solid, if not crisp, outing from Michael Pineda.
“I thought he threw a good game,’’ Joe Girardi said of Pineda (3-7), who gave up two runs, six hits, walked two and fanned eight in six innings. Unfortunately, we didn’t score runs for him.’’ The second straight defeat ended a seven-game Yankees homestand with a 5-2 record and it cost the losers a chance to gain ground on the Orioles and Red Sox, who share first place in the AL East.
They both lost Sunday, so the Yankees head into Monday’s off day at 31-32 and 5 ½ games back.
As for Pineda, he loaded the bases without an out in the fourth and gave up just one run, taking a Victor Martinez liner off the rear end.
In the fifth, Pineda traded an out for a run that made it 2-0.
“I focused and made my best pitches,’’ Pineda said of limiting the damage in the fourth inning.
“The slider the last couple of starts has been good, way better than the first couple of months.’’ While the 23-year-old Fulmer (7-1), who was dealt from the Mets to Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes deal last season, was impressive, the Yankees flushed scoring chances against a pitcher who hasn’t allowed a run in the past 28 1/3 innings.
Aaron Hicks led off the third with a double and never moved off second base.
Austin Romine did the same in the fifth and then watched Fulmer issue two-out walks to Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner.
After fouling a ball off his lower right shin, Beltran lofted a fly ball to center to kill the scoring threat.